Do You Dare?

When is the last time you paid money to spend a weekend being openly vulnerable with a group of strangers?

Most would say never, but then again most have not yet experienced The Daring Way™ for Leaders. This past weekend at The Crossing, Jenn Lofgren of Incito Consulting Inc. and Jamie Davidoff of Spark Success Coaching, both Certified Daring Way Facilitator Candidates, lead an intimate group of strangers (yes we realize this sounds a bit like an oxymoron) on an intense two day leadership journey. Individuals from varying levels of management and leadership positions, with a confetti of professional backgrounds including health care, finance, energy, technology, and academia, descended on The Crossing looking for ways to become better leaders. What they didn’t realize was that they would have a transformational experience and develop deep, lasting bonds.

To give a bit of background, as per the website, “The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The method was designed for work with individuals, couples, families, work teams, and organizational leaders. It can be facilitated in clinical, educational, and professional settings. During the process we explore topics such as vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. We examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back and we identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing daily practices that transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.” Needless to say, one must realize coming into this retreat that there is going to be some serious internal work required, but the benefits will last a lifetime!

The Crossing team welcomed Jenn, Jamie, and the participants on Friday afternoon and they didn’t waste any time getting started. Working through several exercises to create trust was the first task. Through said exercises and statement of intentions for the weekend, everyone quickly realized how much they had in common. And, what better way to continue to build trust and foster conversation than over dinner! As Jenn shared, “(Chef) Doug spoiled us like your best Grandma visit, ever!” After dinner the group picked up where they left off and dove into the myths of vulnerability and stepped into areas of risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure. They rounded out the evening by starting to explore using the metaphor of an ‘arena’ representing wherever it is in your life that you are looking at showing up and being brave from a leadership context. They discussed what potential seats could be in the arena and who sits in them. After this it was time to call it a night and everyone eagerly made their way back to their inviting rooms.

After a hearty breakfast the participants took advantage of a beautiful morning and set out on the property for a walk to complete their first task of the day; discussing a Harvard Business Review article on Authentic Leadership that had been given to them in advance. Once back in the meeting room the day really got started with the presentation of their homework assignment from the previous night which was choosing a personal theme song. The morning was off to a rocking start (pun intended)!

But the party couldn’t last forever and hard work reared its head again. Saturday was full of the guts of The Daring Way™ program. Hard topics like empathy, self- compassion, shame, and examining values, pushed participants out of their comfort zones and forced them to ‘dig deep’, a phrase often used by Brené Brown herself, to come up with authentic answers to help forge a more wholehearted path. All of this hard work required some brain food and as Jenn relayed, “we ate and we ate and we ate!” After sharing another delicious home cooked dinner, the participants were ready for some much deserved R&R, but instead it was homework time. The assignment was extremely challenging, especially after an emotionally and mentally exhausting day. The crew rallied though, and found strength in the trust and meaningful friendships that had been built within the brief 24 hours they had spent together. They headed off to attack the task. Shortly after Jenn and Jamie found the small group working away, seemingly enjoying the torturous assignment, with hoots of laughter sparking the air late into the night.  The wine might have helped but it’s amazing what a little camaraderie can do for the soul!

Sunday morning was bittersweet as the participants gathered for the start of the final day. As a fresh fire was lit in the conference room, the group eased in to sharing the challenging work they completed the night before.  They discussed how to apply this to their position as empowering leaders, specifically focusing on the delicate art of providing feedback. From here they moved into their final exercise which was choosing guideposts and how to focus on implementing one or two into their daily lives.

Overall the weekend was a great success! We thoroughly enjoyed having the entire The Daring Way™ ensemble with us here at The Crossing, it was a perfect fit! We see one of our strengths as being able to provide a safe and inviting environment that allows people to open up and tap into a deeper level, both as individuals and as a team. Jamie and Jenn had some very kind words about their experience with us which we are very proud to share….

“The peaceful and quiet environment allowed people to be more focused and present. The fact that we had the building all to ourselves was a bonus as well. It allowed participants to freely use the meeting space in the evening knowing that they would not be disrupting any other guests. That also made it feel safe, comfortable and intimate.” Jamie Davidoff, Spark Success Coaching

“We couldn’t have selected a more suitable place for a transformational leadership retreat. The Crossing at Ghost River was the private, reflective, and beautiful location needed to support our clients going deeper into their work in a way that could not have been achieved in a busy hotel or in a venue in the city. The food and hospitality put us over the top; we felt spoiled in so many ways allowing us to be immersed in the program experience. “ Jenn Lofgren, Incito Consulting Inc.

It was our pleasure to host such a dedicated group!  Taking the time and energy to work on oneself, to improve not only their own lives but those around them, to become better leaders and self aware individuals, is something we applaud.  We hope you enjoyed your time with us and feel like The Crossing is the type of space that emits a welcoming, safe and open atmosphere.  Hopefully this incredible experience can be shared here again in the future!

‘Check In’ To 2015

We have just officially surpassed the first week of the New Year and we must say 2015 has a nice ring to it!

Call it hokey, superstitious, following the masses, etc., but the New Year really is a fresh start. Not that you can’t make a fresh start whenever you choose, but why not use the momentum of the universe to help you along? And what better way to make a fresh start than to set some goals! Here at The Crossing, our goal for 2015 is to focus on ‘checking in’. It seems appropriate for an overnight retreat centre, right!?!? But in all seriousness, we mean ‘checking in’ in a variety of ways, including checking out.

Check in with….yourself.
What do you want out of this year for you and only you? These are things that make you feel good, are positive, and contribute to you being an even better version of you. Do you love to read but somehow between work, juggling the kids’ schedules, hectic travel, etc., it has fallen by the wayside? What about dancing, painting, cooking, writing? Whatever activity it is that you loved that has somehow been shelved over time, try to find some time to shake the dust off.  Perhaps scheduling an hour a week, or even 15-30 mins a few days a week if you need more flexibility, can rekindle a part of you that you had forgotten about.

Check in with …..family and friends.
With people becoming busier and busier, it can sometimes happen that those who we want to spend the most time with actually get the least. Is there one night a week that the entire family is home? Get everyone around the dinner table and make it a standing date. Or perhaps a dinner party and game night with friends; make it monthly date and take turns hosting.

Check in with…work.
Start 2015 with a fresh perspective on what work means to you. The reality is that not everyone is currently working in their absolute dream job everyday, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of takeaways. Create an opportunity to speak with your boss on how you can become more involved in areas of your job that you are really passionate about.  Is there a social committee or rec sports league that you could join with your colleagues? We spend a significant portion of our day with our ‘work family’, these relationships need nurturing and investment just like the ones we have at home. Working with a great team who is supportive and encouraging makes a huge impact, not only on our performance, but on our day to day happiness as well.

Check in with your…body.                                                                                                                                             Take stock of how you physically feel. Is your shoulder still bothering you from that first heavy snow shovel? Do you have your yearly checkup penciled in with your physician yet? Are you waking up feeling ready for the day or wanting to hit snooze one more time?  Have you been wanting to dig out the skis for the last 3 winters? Wanting to break out of the take out food habit and rekindle the fire with your stove? Our bodies are miraculous machines, but like all machines they need repair, maintenance and downtime! Small changes can lead to big results, and often the better you feel the easier it is to keep on track. Try simple things like…. powering down all electronics at least a half hour before bed time, substitute an herbal tea for one of your coffees during the day, make plans with a friend to hit the slopes/gym/new class so that you are less likely to bow out, schedule your yearly checkup to fall on your birthday (you won’t forget and is there a better gift to give yourself than your health?), find a great recipe app that can make homemade meals work with your schedule and budget. And last but not least, check out…give yourself a day off every once and while.

The New Year gives us a chance to refocus, reset and revive!  Big changes and goals are fantastic, but make sure to pick a few small things that you know will be easy to incorporate into your day to day life.  The motivation that you will get from achieving these small steps will help you continue to build on your success throughout the year!

All of the very best in 2015!

2014, Thank You

It’s hard to believe that in less than 24hrs a new year will be upon us, with many of us saying, ‘where did the time go?” So today, in the last few hours of 2014, we wanted to take some time to reflect on what an incredible year it has been.

One of the most important things to us at The Crossing is our relationships, and so, it seems appropriate to start there. This past year has brought us a host of new guests ranging from corporate, to non-profit, education, wellness, public service, and the arts, just to name a few. The variety of the groups and individuals has had such an inspiring impact on our own team and we are constantly learning new things from our guests. We were also extremely proud to welcome back many old friends whose companies and organizations have been visiting us regularly, some for over 10 years; a true honour in our books to have been your chosen host!

A year of firsts comes to mind when looking back through some of the unique, and truly unbelievable events held at The Crossing in 2014! Never in our wildest dreams did our quiet little piece of country paradise think that it would host the Stampede party of the year thrown by The National Music Centre with friends Jim Cuddy, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Paul Brandt! It was magic, something we will never forget! We also made many people happy when the wish for a yoga retreat was offered by the talented Suzette O’Byrne of Flow Training and Yoga, a very rewarding journey for everyone in attendance and a welcome addition to programs at The Crossing.

Our close ties to art through our sister organization, Reflections West Art, brought the WestGuild artists to us not once, but twice this year. With a retreat in February, and again in August (sharing some events with our friends at the Leighton Art Centre), budding and accomplished artists, both young and old, descended on The Crossing to learn from some of Western Canada’s greatest talents. Both weekends certainly were a feast for the eyes!

We would be amiss if we didn’t include some of our tried and true fan favourite events, especially our ever popular Mother’s Day Brunch and Father’s Day BBQ. The holiday season also brings us many repeat guests who happily mix business with pleasure by working in some team building with their annual holiday party. Throughout all of the yearly festivities, one thing is for sure, no one leaves The Crossing hungry, Chef Doug and his team make sure of it!

One of the things that we are perhaps most proud of this year is getting to know and to be in the company of some amazing organizations who do incredible work. Already mentioned are the National Music Centre and Reflections West Art, both bringing the arts to the masses. We are also very proud to be involved with Casting for Life (women’s cancer survivors fly fishing weekend), and Diakonos Retreat Society in conjunction with the Calgary Fire Department (couples’ retreats to help maintain healthy relationships in a demanding career), among several other organizations who are doing spectacular things in our communities.

Last but not least, we want to reflect on all of the additions and teamwork that has taken place internally this year at The Crossing. It takes a certain person to, not only understand guest service, but to genuinely care for our guests. We feel that we have found those team members and they work very hard to make The Crossing feel like your home. Many long hours, multiple shifts, and time away from their own families was sacrificed to make this a very successful year at The Crossing. For all of this, we want to say thank you, thank you, thank you!

With just a few hours left in 2014, we look back with fond memories and are grateful for all the lessons and opportunities this past year afforded us. Our promise is to study and learn from these so that we can provide an even better experience to all of our guests in 2015!

All the best, see you in the New Year!

A Perfect Match!

It finally happened….yoga!

For as long as we can remember, people have been asking, “when is there going to be a yoga retreat at The Crossing?” Well, it came, it was zen and bendy and fantastic, and now we can officially say we have hosted a dedicated yoga retreat thanks to Suzette O’Byrne and her students from Flow Training and Yoga.

A veteran instructor, Suzette came across our location and decided it was an excellent opportunity to host a local retreat. Truly a professional, Suzette had essentially sold out the retreat before we even had the opportunity to advertise it on her behalf! And so, last weekend, with 14 students in tow, Flow Training and Yoga made the short trek to The Crossing for a weekend of nurturing, yoga, relaxation, and building friendships.

The retreat commenced on Friday evening with an opening and grounding ceremony, followed by an evening yoga practice. With yoga sessions sprinkled throughout the weekend, it was important to Suzette to convey that the retreat was about nurturing; doing what people felt was best for them. Some participated in all practices throughout the weekend, while others took one off to have some downtime and enjoy the setting. Using the Pine Loft as their classroom base, everyone really enjoyed the bright, sunny space and dedicated ‘studio’.

As with most groups, mealtimes were a highlight! Deciding to eat ‘family style’ really made an impact on the group and Suzette mentioned that it allowed everyone to bond more easily, which is exactly what we always hope for around the ‘family table’. Overall it was a lovely weekend and The Crossing was very happy that Suzette and her students chose to host their retreat with us!

Yoga practice is a beautiful and individual journey, and we truly feel that The Crossing atmosphere deepens this experience. Please let us know if you would be interested in participating in a yoga retreat at The Crossing, or if you are an instructor looking for the perfect retreat setting, we would love to talk to you!

Your Friends at The Crossing

*Please note that picture is from a photo shoot with our friends at INLIV

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

‘Do as I say, not as I do’, is a phrase that most of us are familiar with, one that we likely encountered more than once as a child. And, let’s be honest, one we have likely said to our own kids if we have them. It is usually accompanied by some sort of gesture that, although we have repeatedly told them not to do, we have done exactly that, right in front of them. It is the complete opposite of our blog title this week of ‘talking the talk and walking the walk’.

Now, let’s put this whole little trip down memory lane into context. We, The Crossing, are a conference and retreat centre. We encourage people to come and spend time, money, and hours away from their desks to visit us with their teams as it will improve overall performance and team relationships. I am sure that people often wonder if we do this ourselves and the answer is yes!  And, although we are located at an actual retreat facility, it is our ‘office’ and therefore we must ‘retreat the retreat’ in order to do this with our own team.

It is extremely important for us to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ to our customers and guests. We believe in what we have to offer, therefore we practice it as well. How do we know what to provide, what the feelings of accomplishment and growth are if we do not do this with our own team? We truly believe that team building is valuable and not just from the standpoint of playing games or doing exercises, but from the intangible moments that help to forge and strengthen trust, camaraderie, friendship, empathy and FUN! We do this because we love it, we do it because it is fun, we do it because we believe in it!

We are not perfect, we are far from it, but we try to embrace the essence of what The Crossing stands for in everything that we do. We may not be able to get off site to team build every quarter but small in-house lunches, group coffee breaks, spring and fall clean ups, holiday decorating as a team, and the occasional team dinner around the dining room table are great tune ups!

Yesterday we did do an off-site team activity and, as always, it left us all feeling pretty good. With spectacular transportation by our friends at Southland Transportation (always safety first!) we headed out to the picturesque Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant in Fish Creek Provincial Park for drinks, dinner and a highly entertaining murder mystery! Good times, laughs, and full bellies were experienced and we all came home feeling happy to be a team, our team.

Off site meetings and activities can bring so much to an organization whether it be intense uninterrupted time for budget or strategy meetings, a working creative session, or a much needed intellectual break from the end of a busy quarter. We believe in it, we hope you do too and if not give us an opportunity to change your mind:)

Enjoy the weekend and Happy Halloween!

Your Friends at The Crossing

PS – The image above is one of many from yesterday’s festivities at Bow Valley Ranche.

Thanks for Thanksgiving!

Who doesn’t love a time of year when outdoors looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, or that it is time to pull out your favourite wool sweater, or perhaps that the season now calls for culinary comforts such as shepherd’s pie, chili and cider?

Fall is here in all of its glory! Mother Nature is a master composer, blessing us with brilliant seasons, each one different than the next. With Thanksgiving weekend upon us, it is no wonder that she saved the brilliant colours, tastes and gatherings for Fall so that we could feast our eyes, tummies, and hearts.  To kick off this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, we wanted to share some of the things that we are thankful for with you!

We are thankful for….
…This beautiful place we call The Crossing; the land is a true gift that gives in so many different ways.
…Our Crossing Team and extended company colleagues who truly are like family; a group where hugs are preferred over handshakes.
…The wonderful smells that waft out of our kitchen from food that is prepared with the utmost love and care, visibly bringing joy to those who consume it.
….The many hands that treat The Crossing as if it were their own, mindfully and tenderly making sure that everything is ‘just so’ to ensure our guests always feel like they are at home.
…Hours of laughter, tears, and long conversation that we have watched our guests enjoy while they are with us.
…The naturally occurring soundtrack of the river, birds, and the rustling shimmer of wind through the grasses and trees that we are priviledged to listen to everyday.
….Our community that has embraced and engaged with us on a multitude of levels.
….Lastly, you, our guests, followers, and supporters, thank you for encouraging us to continue to do what we believe in and for helping make it possible!

In closing, we just want to share the warmth of the season with you. Many of us are so lucky, let us remember this and to share our good fortune with others.

From our home to yours, all the very best this Thanksgiving weekend!

Your friends at The Crossing

Welcome to the family Ray!

There’s a new friendly face out here at The Crossing!  We would like to take a moment to formally introduce you to the newest member of our family, Guest Services Coordinator, Ray Cluney!

Getting to know our guests is of great importance to us, and we feel that it is important that you know a bit about us too.  Therefore we would like to share a little bit about Ray so that when you walk in the front door, and see his smiling face, it will be as if you are being greeted by an old friend.

As with all of our team members, we like to ask about their first impressions of The Crossing, whatever they may be. Here is what Ray had to say…

“My first impression when I walked through the doors of The Crossing was how welcoming and friendly the staff are, from the heart of the house to everyone behind the scenes.”

Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ray moved to Banff, Alberta in April 1998 and never looked back. Jumping in with both feet, Ray started in the hospitality industry at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.   He acquired a priceless skill set working in several departments over 16 years, from dishwashing, to staff cafeteria, room service, the golf course, guest services, and everywhere in between.

Ray and his family and are proud to call Cochrane their home after relocating in June 2013.    When Ray isn’t working his magic at The Crossing he can be found partaking in several of his favourite hobbies stating that he is, “ a comic nerd, movie buff and proud member of the KISS Army who loves the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

We won’t hold that last part against you Ray. All jokes aside, you are part of The Crossing family now Ray and we couldn’t be happier! 

 

Come One, Come All!

With roots dating back to 1902, “The Little Engine That Could” is a story that we love here at The Crossing.  Its values of positivity and hard work are two things that strive to accomplish every single day.  Similarly, we are not the biggest train on the track and we might not have all the bells and whistles of a larger engine, but we have the ones that count and we more than make up for the rest with passion!

This week we want to spend some time sharing the spectrum of what The Crossing can offer.  With over 140 acres of beautiful Rocky Mountain foothills as our backyard, cozy but modern accommodations, food to rival the best around, and staff who live and breathe hospitality, let us open the doors of possibility for you!

Off-site corporate conferencing and meetings find a comfortable and productive home here at The Crossing.  With several meeting spaces, food services to accommodate a variety of schedules and needs, and casual common spaces which spur social interaction, we are proud to have built strong relationships through the many return visits of our group guests.  Add in endless opportunity to team build, either on or off-site through our local connections, our guests often reach a new level of ‘teamwork’.  Think orienteering, team development with horses, group yoga or fitness, heck, even a bouncy castle obstacle course; we’ll work to deliver a unique experience for your team.   We understand and respect the hard work that not-for-profit and charitable organizations do and, that they too, need time and space to plan and achieve their goals.  At The Crossing, we are happy to work with groups in the non-profit sector to aid in creating an experience that meets both their productivity and financial expectations.

We are often asked, “Can I come out for a night with my friends, family or spouse?”  Yes you can!  Although we do not operate like a hotel, The Crossing does offer a variety of ways that you can enjoy a stay with us through programs and special events.  Throughout the year, various instructors ranging from art to yoga, business, leadership, and fitness just to name a few, set up day or overnight workshops that individuals can sign up for.  Often hikes, bonfires, outdoor games and ample downtime to enjoy the property are worked into the schedule.  The most popular question we are often asked at the end of these are, “when is the next program I can sign up for?”

Custom, each and every visit to The Crossing is built upon the needs of our guests and no two are alike.  Need one meeting space for an afternoon or the entire property for several days?  We can do that.  Does your group have several dietary restrictions?  We can work to provide a menu that suits those needs.  Looking for something truly ‘out of the box’ to engage your team?  The sky is the limit!  Interested in challenging yourself individually through a new program being offered?  Pack your bag!

Every season brings new opportunities for groups and individuals of all kinds to experience The Crossing.  Be sure to follow our website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages to stay up to date as well to benefit from the many articles on business, wellness, local news, pictures and recipes to enhance your day to day!

 

 

A Feast for the Eyes

A feast for the eyes; there has not been an event so colourful than that which just occurred at The Crossing! From Aug. 21-24, we were honoured to host the second Reflections West Art Workshop, featuring talented WestGuild artists, Roger Arndt, Maurade Banton, Rick Berg, Doug Levitt, Murray Phillips and John Zacharias, who taught and mentored many eager students!

Following Reflections West Art’s inaugural workshop event last year, in addition to putting on several successful shows at The Hyatt Regency Calgary with the WestGuild group, it was no surprise that the number of participants doubled this year!  Clearly it was a combination of all things irresistible that called to the talented group of individuals who spent days and nights perfecting their technique, encouraging fellow participants, and sharing stories by the campfire. Although the common denominator was an appreciation for art, the participants ranged from those indulging their hobby to those who were exploring the possibility of creating a career out of their passion. Inspiration and talent were abound!

So, perhaps you are wondering what happens at an artists’ workshop at The Crossing? Reflections West did an excellent job of showcasing each of the WestGuild artists’ strengths and giving them the opportunity to teach and mentor all of the participating artists. Several studios were set up throughout the property to enhance specific styles and techniques. Each day three separate workshops were taught by different artists. This was followed each evening by a ‘show and tell’ of sorts where all of the participants toured the workshop spaces to see what others had created during the day. The evenings were capped off with “fireside chats” where the teachers and participants shared their experiences, not only from the retreat, but in their careers as well.  With Mother Nature sharing some beautiful weather on the last day, some of the artists took to the grounds for a little plein air painting, a great way to end a wonderful weekend. Needless to say there were many laughs, some (happy) tears, friendships and personal growth that resulted.

Clearly one does not come to The Crossing without eating and having a place that feels like ‘home’, and the participants’ creative fires were kept burning by the weekend-long feast prepared by Chef Doug and his team. We are also happy to hear from Reflections West that when asking the participants for feedback on what their least favourite part of the retreat was (a job well done for always striving to improve), the response was, “packing up and leaving, and saying good-bye.” Well, we at The Crossing feel the exact same way!  Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year and in the meantime keep being inspired by the beauty around you!

Riverside Rejuvenation

The river that runs through our property at The Crossing has a calming affect; the sound, the colour, the visual presence, it truly has a mesmerizing and transformative power. It is hard to leave the riverside without feeling lighter, brighter and, overall, simply better.

For the past several years The Crossing has welcomed Casting for Life to share in the beauty of the property, and the river in particular. Casting for Life is an incredible organization that, “was created to provide physical, spiritual and emotional support to breast cancer survivors.” This is done through a weekend retreat at The Crossing, this year will be July 18th-20th, and we are honoured to be part of it.  The land, the river, the art of fly fishing, allow these incredibly brave women the chance to connect to themselves and each other. Time for reflection, fun, and rest, afford them the opportunity to focus on the mental, emotional and physical aspects of healing and rejuvenation.

This is an incredible weekend, one that many women have found powerful and uplifting! If you or someone you know might be interested in partaking please contact Casting for Life via their website by clicking on the highlighted links. We would like to thank Casting for Life for allowing us to be a part of this profound weekend for so many years and we look forward to continuing to provide a special place for this magic to occur!